Seattle, Wash — Avvo, Inc. (www.avvo.com), the world’s largest lawyer ratings directory, today revealed the most popular legal issues in 2010 according to the site’s usage data. Results indicate Americans are dealing with legal problems related directly or indirectly to a stagnant economy, and are more often handling these issues by finding ways to represent themselves.
Immigration, Criminal Defense and Family Law rounded out the top three most popular legal issues, followed by Divorce, Bankruptcy, Employment, Child Custody, Landlord, DUI and Real Estate.
“When the economy is good, there is divorce. When it’s bad, there is more divorce,” said family law attorney Kelly Chang Rickert of the Law Offices of Kelly Chang and the Divorce and Family Lawyer Blog. “However, when money is tight, people spend less and look for more opportunities to practice ‘people’s law’. I have seen this rise in self-representation, also called Pro Se. People are now doing their own legal research, and because there is a wealth of information out there, it’s easy to educate yourself.”
Chicago immigration attorney Kevin Dixler has also seen an increase in the number of people handling legal issues on their own, but warns making any mistake during the process can lead to costly delays.
“Too many mistakenly think if they fill out the form and pay, they get the visa. This has proven costly because filing fees and expenses often exceed $1500, and a resulting denial hurts a person’s pocketbook even more,” Dixler explains. “Many need to wait and carefully consider all alternatives. An experienced attorney understands these realities and can take the time needed to explain the situation to someone whose culture, language and sense of justice may make it difficult to understand the process.”
“It has been a tough year. Despite reports of improvement, immigration, healthcare and economic reform have impacted the livelihoods of many people. We see questions everyday about deportation, unemployment, foreclosure, and bankruptcy or even how to afford a divorce with children,” said Mark Britton, founder and CEO at Avvo. “But the fact that people are seeking out help, and receiving it from the thousands of lawyers who participate in the site, is a positive step toward bettering their situation. And not only does this information and guidance help those who need it immediately, but also the others who search the site seeking the same answer at a later time.”
Adding color to these practice areas are some of the most viewed legal questions from the past 12 months:
- Can I collect social security and unemployment, at the same time?
- Can I be jailed for not paying debt (credit card bill)?
- What exactly is an immigration hold and do I know if my boyfriend has one?
- What is the benefit of Deed in Lieu vs. Foreclosure?
- What actually happens during an arraignment hearing? Is this where DA and defense exchange information?
- Can I collect unemployment benefits and apply for disability social security?
- How are executor fees and administrative fees determined?
Avvo is the largest and only free website that empowers consumers to handle their medical and legal matters with confidence. Avvo offers free ratings and profiles for 90 percent of practicing lawyers and 90 percent of licensed MDs in the US. This includes the editorial Avvo Rating, patient and client reviews and peer endorsements as well as experience, background information, industry achievements and disciplinary records. Avvo also offers a free Question and Answer forum, where consumers can ask questions and receive certified answers from certified doctors and lawyers. Additionally, Avvo Legal Guides and Avvo Health Guides are free research tools, written as how-to articles covering everyday issues authored by certified lawyers and doctors. Founded in early 2006 and launched in 2007, Avvo is privately held, with funding from private investors, Benchmark Capital, Ignition Partners and DAG Ventures. For more information, visit www.avvo.com.